The Mystery of Migrating Birds

Author: OliviasOutlook

More than half of all birds migrate. But why do birds migrate? What makes them migrate at the right time? How do they know where to land? And how do they find their way back?


Scientists have said that the secrets of the amazing navigational skills of birds aren’t fully understood. And in an effort to discover their navigation flights, they have used several techniques like banding and satellite tracking to learn more about their activities. What is most amazing is that in the first-year, birds make their very first migration without no prior experience. They can find their winter home without having seen it before, and then return the following spring to where they were born at the right time and location.

Birds in the Northern Hemisphere that are covered seasonally with winter’s snow and ice cross the Equator and beyond seek warm weather. Some species only move a hundred miles, others travel huge distances: Canada to Mexico, England to Africa, or Russia to Australia. Birds in their journey that can stretch to a round-trip distance of several thousand miles often encounter dangers of lack of food, predators and bad weather, yet the hazards of the journey don’t stop them from migrating.

Other Birds

The Hummingbird crosses the entire Gulf of Mexico in a single 600-mile-long flight, while the godwits flies non-stop for some 11,700 km (7270 miles), which equals the distance from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. This is the longest flight taken by any creature. And after around nine days, the godwits arrive to the coastal areas of New Zealand.

Some small birds travel at night and take their direction from the position of the setting sun, while others like the eagles migrate during the daytime to take advantage of rising thermals and up-draughts. Sandpipers fly with the speed of more than 100 miles (161 km) per hour. Others, fly as high as 14,000 feet (4.267 m). Scientists recorded that the highest altitude for geese was 29,500 feet (8.992 m) near northwest India.

The Path

Tracking technologies showed that navigation in migratory birds is even more complex than previously assumed. In one experiment, 11 adult cuckoos were relocated from Denmark to Spain just before their winter migration to Africa. Purposely, the birds were released more than 1,000 km away from their normal migration route. Amazingly, these birds navigated back towards their normal route. Mikkel Willemoes from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, commented on that saying:

“The release site was completely unknown to the cuckoos, yet they had no trouble finding their way back to their normal migratory route. Interestingly though, they aimed for different targets on the route, which we do not consider random. This individual and flexible choice in navigation indicates an ability to assess advantages and disadvantages of different routes, probably based on their health, age, experience or even personality traits. They evaluate their own condition and adjust their reaction to it, displaying a complicated behavior which we were able to document for the first time in migratory birds.”


Atheists claim the evolution is the answer to the phenomena of bird migration. But can a person logically conclude that a tiny brain of a godwit bird, plus time, plus chance would guide its flight over 10,000 miles for about a week and a half without stopping for food, water, or rest?

God created birds with amazing traits we call “instincts.”  These instincts are unlearned behaviors that birds are born with. Instincts guide and direct the bird so that, “Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrust observe the time of their migration.” —Jeremiah 8:7, NIV

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